Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Climate Science, Mars and Politics

In 2001, Malin et al reported in Science, 294, 2946-8, that the South Polar Cap is shrinking quite rapidly, releasing CO2 in significant quantities;

In 2005, Colaprete et al reported in Nature, 435, 184-188, that the South Polar Cap is shown by models to be bistable in climate, due to the unusual topography near the pole. Basically the polar climate flips on a short time scale. The basic qualitative argument was backed by extensive modeling using the NASA Mars Global Models. Current polar parameters are near the edge of instability indicated by the models.

Sep 20th, Mars Global Surveyor had a followup press release that basically said previous trends were confirmed.

Sep 21st, Instapundit and Powerline got their knickers in a twist, apparently thinking they discovered the secret proof that terrestrial climate change is due to changes in the Sun (look, Mars is warming!).


PS: the rocket scientists at NASA thought of the "put a thermometer on Mars" thing. In fact they thought to do a global vertically resolved measurement of temperatures as a function of time from orbiting satellites. Globally, dust storms dominate, and Mars is now cooler than it was in the 70s; Martian climate is by no means fully understood, but there are jest a few articles on such issues in obscure publications like JGR, Science and Icarus. Not that hard to find.

PPS: Astronomy and Geophysics (2003) 44.06 has a good long generally accessible article on Martian General Circulation Models and comparison to data.



Blogger mjt said...

I think this goes right in the same category as that time Powerline wrote an extended, pretentious and self-righteous rant about George W. Bush's "genius" being vastly underappreciated in his time.

1:20 PM  

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